The games industry moves quickly and while stories may come and go there are some that we just can't let go of…
So, to give those particularly thorny topics a further going over we've created a weekly digest where the members of the PocketGamer.biz team share their thoughts and go that little bit deeper on some of the more interesting things that have happened in mobile gaming in the past week.
Make no mistake, there’s a battle raging out there and while David versus Goliath at least has a surprise ending, we’ll take a ticket for Goliath versus Goliath every time…
The art of making great games has gotten increasingly refined over the years. And with potential millions - correction - billions at stake it’s somehow heartening to know that there’s still money to be made by spending hundreds of thousands of man hours and even greater number of dollar bills making something amazing and perfect.
In mobile gaming the perception is that everything must be quick and easy and must tread a well worth proven path. Which is why the likes of Genshin Impact, Hokai: Star Rail and NetEase’s new RPG Project Mugen warm this gamer’s soul.
These gaming giants have made their own worlds not just inside the game but out in the real world too. While any sane console and PC publisher would baulk at the idea of giving away such labours of love for ‘free’, the proliferation of mobile has made the impossible possible. Mobile games CAN be great, brave and brilliant and when Tencent goes large NetEase are set to go larger.
We can’t wait to play the finished product and see that cutting edge pushed that little bit further. Here’s to what’s next.
Netflix’s gaming ambitions have become something of a pet subject of mine. The company arguable made streaming film and television what it is today, and since branching into original content has created - or adapted - some of the 21st century’s biggest and most critically acclaimed shows, ranging from the zany animated dramedy Bojack Horseman to eighties horror Stranger Things.
However, the streaming market is getting increasingly crowded and as streaming services exit the market (Yahoo Screen) more and more appear. As such, the introduction of a gaming wing does feel like a natural move for Netflix, especially given the multimedia world we live in - most gaming systems offer the ability to watch Netflix, whether you’re a mobile, PC, or console gamer.
It’s worth noting, however, the BBC’s coverage of the move later took the stance of “Did you know Netflix make games?” as if presenting brand new information to its viewers. Netflix has been releasing games since 2021. That the broadcasting stalwart treated such a 'move' with surprise is indicative of their increasing detachement from what's really happening.
By its own admission, Netflix has focused on building a portfolio and learning the intricacies of the gaming market before it starts making a big splash - in a sense this is similar to its initial entry into the streaming world, focusing on licensed content before it ventured into original IPs. Could it be as simple as Netflix getting more confident with its place in the market and seeking greater awareness? Or is there something else at play? If Netflix had started out creating console and PC titles - something it has in the pipeline - would mainstream news outlets still take over a year to find it worth covering?
Zynga is back at it with another game from the world of Game of Thrones. Firstly, I am a big fan of the books and TV shows, so anytime I see this franchise getting some love, it makes me happy. Zynga’s first foray with the IP was a slot casino game, so this RPG puzzle experience seems like it should have more depth to it.
The Game of Thrones IP has been used on mobile in several outings. There was Game of Thrones Beyond the Wall, which was removed from the App Stores earlier this year, but it garnered over a million just in pre-registrations, proving how popular the Game of Thrones name is. There are other titles that are still live, such as Game of Thrones Conquest, which has grossed over $200 million.
What I’m really focusing on here is the power of IP. There are so many mobile games to choose from in today’s market that it can be difficult to have just one stand out, so aligning yourself with a big IP is a great move to instantly get eyes on what you are doing. I know that because Game of Thrones is in the title, I’ll be checking Legends out when it releases. This is before I even see if the game is ‘my cup of tea’.
In the digital age we live in, we see content crossing over all the time, be it from comic book characters to series, then a series becomes a movie, then it gets a video game adaptation or vice versa. People love a franchise. They love to feel invested in something and consume any content that relates to it.
Mobile Games that take on big IPs can guarantee instant interest. Note that I say interest and not success. Simply having a big name IP as the core of your game isn’t enough to make people enjoy it or want to keep coming back and playing it. For me, a big mistake that these types of games often make is they become greedy; they know people are already familiar with characters and content, so they put a price on absolutely everything because they know that everyone will want their favourite character, but that wears thin and isn’t good for long term retention.
IPs may be a fast track to gaining players, but a great gameplay loop is what will keep them coming back.
This week marks four years of Pokémon Masters EX, and as someone who’s been playing for the long-haul, I have to say it’s my favourite game in the mega-franchise’s mobile lineup. Anniversaries are a time to celebrate, and what better way to celebrate than introducing a new, overpowered iteration of Pokémon’s original protagonist Red?
Well… Since this is the third (of four!) anniversaries to feature Red, perhaps there are better ways to celebrate by now. Then again, as someone who hadn’t been born yet when Red was hot stuff, maybe the novelty is just lost on me. I found Ash Ketchum to be a much more exciting inclusion last anniversary.
Whatever the case, we have another Red in the gacha for a limited time, and some pretty major new story content. And at least I can take on triple battles with a team of Red’s Charizard, Pikachu and Articuno now! That sounds pretty fun actually… I think I’ll go do that now…